The most effective moments of Season 2 Mandalorian had been emotional connections, not cameos
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian, “The Rescue.”]
Let’s be very clear: the sight of a young Luke Skywalker tearing through a squadron of darktroopers is something to whip your ass on every observable level. My guy showed up in an X-wing with the same damn haircut he’s had for a decade and crushed an evil robot with his mind like a tab can. Incredible. The Mandalorian builds on those moments, moments when it’s iconic war of stars Numbers briefly emerge from their place in The Lore to give the audience the sheer adrenaline rush that can only come from 43 years of devoted fandom. But, as I’ve said throughout the second season, that’s a shaky foundation to let a story rest on. After the really wild climax that was “The Rescue,” it’s clearer than ever that The Mandalorian is best on those rare moments when the show prioritizes real emotion over spinoff-worthy cameos.
Almost all of these moments come from our main mandate, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), the first Star Wars character who really doesn’t care about Star Wars.
Image via Disney +
That doesn’t mean I couldn’t care less about Star Wars. Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) jumping into live action is exciting, Boba Fett (Temuera MorrisonClimbing your ass out of the Sarlacc pit is a lifelong dream for many fans, and it’s totally understandable why even something like a simple loss of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s name could spark an episode in the eyes of some viewers. But these things don’t add up to a story; References should be the spices that add pizzazz to a meal, not every dang gang. The Mandalorian Season 2 lost track when the blinding WOW factor of its familiar faces obscured the fact that it actually has a strong emotional core: the relationship between Din Djarin and his adopted force-sensitive son Grogu.
The Mandalorian season 2’s best moment is in the Ahsoka Tano episode and has nothing to do with lightsabers or beskar steel. It is Din who has just found out Grogus’ real name and tragic backstory and asks the little green man to force a metal ball out of his hand. It’s a quiet character beat that proves that The Mandalorian can create unforgettable moments without relying on a spectacle. Yes, it’s cool to see Grogu Din knock the ball out of his hand, but the part that stays with you is the idea that this vulnerable little kid can only do it in the first place because they trust you Don’t hurt him for it. Pascal nails the delivery. His “great job kid” has all layers of a persistently stoic character who just can’t help himself.
Image via Disney
I was initially frustrated with how passive Din Djarin was in a good part of The Mandalorian, but then I realized how reliable it is to have a main character who doesn’t understand or really care what all this fuss is about goes. This makes Star Wars feel bigger and more personal at the same time. You’ve done these epic quests all over the galaxy, Bo-Katan trying to reclaim the throne of Mandalore, Ahsoka Tano wants revenge, the Empire itself is trying to crawl its way back to power, and at the center of it all is a single, who just wants to take his little son to a nice preschool. Din responded to the epic Bo-Katan and Ahsoka Tano arrivals with a sigh that occurs when you realize you need to transfer the game to DVR as the work is definitely late. The best line from “The Rescue” is when Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) tells the complex legacy process of the Darksabers and Din is basically like, “Okay, I’ll admit that honestly sounds silly to me.”
This is what makes the final moments of the season two finale so special. We thought for so long that the question was, “Which Jedi will show up?” that we didn’t realize how much Luke’s looks would pale compared to Din and Grogu’s parting. That’s the power of an emotional payoff, an elegant storytelling weapon that this show so often tosses aside for the blunt option. The small, subtle beauty of a Mandalorian who takes off his helmet to silently bid farewell to the tiny creature he has established a planet-to-planet connection with. That’s why the franchise endures, and why Luke Skywalker, who shows up more than 40 years late, still has the visceral strength it has.
This is also what makes the post-credits sequence of the finale so … unsettling. In case you missed it: Boba Fett and Fennec Shand (Ming-na Wen) strolled into the old amusement palace of Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine, now run by Cib Fortuna, and murdered everyone in the room. Boba drops onto the throne and then falls on Black, followed by: “The book by Boba Fett. Coming in December 2021.” As of this writing, there’s no confirmation of what the hell that means, but the recently announced release date for The Mandalorian’s third season is also December 2021, suggesting the series may shift focus from Din Djarin to Boba Fett . Super cool again! A Boba Fett Show! But it would be a huge disappointment to turn away from Din Djarin’s journey once it gets an emotional hook that you don’t need a Wikipedia page to understand.
The Mandalorian is now streamed on Disney +.
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About the author
(1543 articles published)
Vinnie Mancuso is Senior Editor at Collider, where he is responsible, among other things, for all things related to the 2018 film ‘Aquaman’. You can also find his opinions on pop culture on Twitter (@ VinnieMancuso1) or be called out of a window in Jersey City between 4am and 6am
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